Leading jazz musicians from seven European countries will perform a series of free, public concerts during the second annual Katara European Jazz Festival, which opens next week.
The five-day musical celebration at Katara Cultural Village begins on Oct. 28 and will feature evening performances from bands representing France, Austria, Germany, Italy and Switzerland, as well as this year’s newcomers Spain and the Netherlands.
Organized by the embassies of the participating countries in collaboration with Katara, the festival will also be supported by Qatar Music Academy, which will host workshops for some of its students with the musicians.
The event is being billed as one that offers “international artistic exchange between European and Arabic music traditions,” and builds on the success of last year’s inaugural event.
Qatar has been trying to develop its jazz scene in recent years by hosting accessible, public events.
In addition to the European Jazz Festival, which started last fall, the St Regis Hotel-based Jazz at the Lincoln Center puts on free, open-air community concerts in MIA Park during the cooler months, and has organized afternoon jazz sessions designed to appeal to children.
The line up
The festival opens next Wednesday, Oct. 28 at 7pm with a performance by Falb Fiction, led by Austrian saxophonist and composer Viola Falb.
In the second part of the double-bill is Germany’s Shreefpunk Reloaded, with Matthias Schriefl. Their blend of jazz and punk is often accompanied by an unconventional lineup that can include two guitars, two drum sets, two tubas and a keyboard, living true to their motto “No fear of simplicity, no fear of complexity.”
France’s Ibrahim Maalouf and his band take the stage on Oct. 29 at 8pm with his concert “Red and Black Light,” which is an ode to today’s women and “the founding and fundamental role (they) play in the hope of a better future,” Maalouf said in a statement.
Incorporating electro and pop elements, the band’s latest works include a cover of Beyonce as well as their own material.
Maalouf said their original compositions are inspired by Egyptian singer, songwriter and actress Oum Kalthoum, adding: “The musical mood of the album is actually a mix between the strong Arab influence of her voice, the strength of the electronic technology we are lucky to use in the 21st century and the freedom that jazz offers.”
One of Italy’s best-known jazz musicians Francesco Bearzatti will lead the Tinissima Quartet on Oct. 30 at 8pm with their celebration of American jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk in the performance Monk ‘n’ Roll.
Oct. 31 has another double performance. At 7pm, Switzerland’s Albin Brun Alpin Ensemble will play their own compositions of jazz, folk and improvisation.
They will be followed by the Biel Ballester Trio from Spain. Mallorca-born Ballester studied classic guitar and has traveled through Europe and the US, as well as having become well-established in the Spanish club and concert circuits.
The festival’s closing event on Nov. 1 at 8pm will be by renowned Dutch pianist Michiel Borstlap, who has performed alongside musicial household names including Herbie Hancock and Gino Vannelli.
In a statement, the French Ambassador to Qatar Eric Chevallier said:
“This second edition of the Katara European Jazz Festival is yet another occasion to share unforgettable and magical moments together with the best musicians from all over Europe.”
All performances will take place in Al Mizan courtyard, behind Building 5 in Katara and will be free and open to the public. More details are on the event’s Facebook page here.
Do you plan to check it out? Thoughts?